environment

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This summer’s heatwave has us all wondering how to stay cool, but animals are facing the same issues as humans with fewer means of coping. Professor Tom Oliver is Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of Reading UK, and his research focuses on understanding the causes of changes to biodiversity to support environmental decision-making. Here he looks at the potentially worrying impact the drought conditions could have on wildlife in the UK.

Marbled white butterfly with butterfly recorder in background. Long-term monitoring schemes give us invaluable information on how species have responded to past drought events.

With widespread reports of intense heatwaves and drought across the Northern hemisphere this summer, combined with our own personal observations of how everything is starting to look very parched, it is natural to wonder how drought is affecting our wildlife.

When the temperature heats up, we humans can take measures to reduce our exposure, such as heading down the shops to buy a fan, or even installing air conditioning. Yet, our wildlife has much less opportunity for such ‘learned’ adaptation to climate change.

That said, there are innate behaviours that can help wildlife to cope; for example many insects regulate their body temperatures by moving to cooler, moister habitats (e.g deep woodland or shady streams and ponds) when things get too hot. The food sources of these insects are also more likely to persist in such areas. So the existence of such ‘refuge’ habitats can be crucial in allowing species to persist under intense heat and drought events.

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The Environment Agency is consulting on a new flood alleviation scheme for Reading, to be sited on the banks of the River Thames in Caversham, and they’re inviting local residents to look at the proposals online and give feedback. Reading environmental scientist and Caversham resident Dr Liz Stephens gives her thoughts on the scheme.

Credit: The County Borough of Reading, via Bob Jones

There are plenty of photographs of the 1947 flood in Reading, including this one taken from a plane. Credit: The County Borough of Reading, via Bob Jones

Caversham may have been fortunate to miss out on the worst of the flooding along the Thames in recent memory, but the scale of the flooding experienced in 1947 shows that many people in lower Caversham may unknowingly live in areas at high risk of flooding.

The extraordinary level of the 1947 flood is marked on a pole by Reading Bridge/Whittington’s Tea Barge, which is visible from the Thames Path. It wasn’t a one-off either, as photographs in Reading Museum point to significant flooding in 1894.

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Bangalore, India, 8-10 January 2018

About the Workshop

The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR, India) and the University of Reading (UK) are jointly organising an India – UK Workshop on Thermoelectric Materials for Waste-Heat Harvesting, to be held on 8-10 January 2018 in Bangalore. The workshop is part of the Newton Researcher Links Programme, jointly funded by the British Council and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the event is also partially supported by the Sheikh Saqr Laboratory, ICMS, JNCASR.

The Workshop will bring together scientists from India and the UK to discuss the research and development of materials capable of converting waste heat into useful electricity. The topic is of global interest but it is particularly relevant for the development of India, where heat is abundant but electricity is still scarce: over 300 million people in rural India have no access to electricity, and those who do, often find the electricity supply to be intermittent and unreliable.

The main goal of the Workshop is to establish effective and durable collaboration links between researchers in UK and India working on thermoelectric materials. The workshop will also provide training to participating early career researchers, with sessions dedicated to experimental and theoretical techniques to investigate thermoelectric materials, as well as discussions of career opportunities in this field.

Call for Participants

Early Career Researchers (individuals holding a PhD and having up to 10 years of post-PhD research experience in a relevant field) from the UK and India are invited to submit their applications for participation in this Workshop. We will provide funding to selected applicants, including the cost of international or domestic travel, local travel (between airport and JNCASR), accommodation and meals.

Completed application forms should be sent via email to the Workshop coordinators (Dr Ricardo Grau-Crespo for applications from the UK, and Dr Kanishka Biswas for applications from India) whose contact details are given below.

In addition, there is a small number of slots available for self-funded participants at any career stage, who will need to pay a fee of £200 for covering the cost of registration, accommodation and meals. Self-funded applicants should also submit the application form for participation.

The deadline for applications is Friday 1st September 2017.

The Workshop Venue

The workshop will be held at the beautiful campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). The institute is located near Bangalore’s International Airport, which serves direct flights from the UK, and it has first-class conference facilities including well-equipped conference rooms.

Keynote Speakers and Workshop Mentors

Prof. Umesh V. Waghmare (JNCASR, Bangalore, India)
Prof. Anthony V. Powell (University of Reading, UK)
Prof. Robert Freer (University of Manchester, UK)
Prof. D. K. Aswal (CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, India)

Workshop Coordinators

Dr Ricardo Grau-Crespo (University of Reading, UK)

Email: r.grau-crespo@reading.ac.uk

Dr Kanishka Biswas (JNCASR, Bangalore, India)

Email: kanishka@jncasr.ac.in

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Thirty international experts met at the University of Reading recently, to help the United Nations develop better policies and practices to safeguard the world’s pollinators.

The meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was convened to identify the greatest threats facing pollinators in different parts of the world and was hosted by Professor Simon Potts, Director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental research.

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By Christian Pfrang, Department of Chemistry, University of Reading

 

Our new study found surprisingly complex arrangements of molecules inside droplets mimicking atmospheric aerosols.

These types of aerosols are typical of pollution emitted in large quantities by cooking processes in Greater London. This self-assembly is caused by molecules –such as fatty acids– containing both water-loving and water-hating parts.  While the general concept of self-assembly is well-known and surface films of these molecules have been studied before, complex three-dimensional arrangements inside water-based droplets found in the atmosphere have not previously been considered.

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